News / USA

Experts Assess Winners And Losers in US Debt Debate

House Speaker John Boehner on Capitol Hill in Washington, Aug. 1, 2011
House Speaker John Boehner on Capitol Hill in Washington, Aug. 1, 2011

In U.S. politics, Washington is in recovery mode after a bruising fight over raising the national debt limit.  President Barack Obama signed a compromise measure into law Tuesday that allows the U.S. government to borrow more money to meet its financial obligations in exchange for Republican demands for significant cuts in government spending.  Both sides are breathing easier after averting a debt default, but, another battle over the size of the central government is just months away.

The political debate over the debt limit transfixed the capital for weeks and when the dust cleared most political analysts agreed that Republican demands to begin dramatic cuts to government spending had shifted the political center of gravity in Washington.

Republicans believe they are on the upswing after demanding steep cuts as the price for raising the debt ceiling.  Many Democrats are discouraged, feeling they gave up too much in the way of cuts, and disappointed that the president did not fight harder in the negotiations.

The debt debate was closely watched by the U.S. public and by many others around the world. What they saw was often a messy demonstration of American democracy in action.

“Well, I think it is embarrassing in terms of our world image," said Rhodes Cook, a Washington-based political analyst with years of experience in covering policy debates. "But it is the way we our government is run these days, particularly over the last 15 or 20 years. There has been, for better or worse, more of this high-stakes gambling attitude between the parties and an inability to get along as well as the members did in the past.”

On the other hand, difficult issues are not easily solved by a Congress that represents the desires of a large, complicated democracy, says former Republican congressman Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma.

“We are a democracy of 300 million people, very diverse, and that is the way important, major decisions have to be made, by fighting it out," said Edwards. "In the end it worked.  It didn’t happen overnight but it happened in time and before any kind of a default took place.”

Republicans felt emboldened after last year’s congressional elections in which they won a majority in the House of Representatives and made gains in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Analyst Rhodes Cook says new conservative members of Congress backed by the Tea Party movement used the debt limit issue to force a debate on the broader question of budget cuts and shrinking the size of the central government.

“I think we are finally, for the first time maybe in a generation or so, really getting into the nub of the basic debate that should be going on in this country over what kind of government do we want," he said.

After signing the debt compromise into law, President Obama quickly pivoted to the issues of creating jobs and growing the U.S. economy, both of which will be at the top of voter concerns heading into next year’s presidential election.

“We’ve got to do everything in our power to grow this economy and put America back to work," said President Obama. "That is what I intend to do and I’m looking forward to working with Congress to make it happen.”

Rhodes Cook says Mr. Obama had a lot at stake politically in the debt debate, mindful that a government default could have wreaked havoc with the U.S. economy and further weakened his re-election hopes next year.

“I don’t know if he strengthened his hand," said Cook. "Let’s put it this way, I don’t think he weakened his hand. I think a [debt) default would have really looked bad for him in particular as the national leader, so that was avoided.”

But former congressman Mickey Edwards says neither side gained a great advantage as a result of the drawn out, polarizing debt limit debate.

“Politically though, it’s amazing," he said. "Neither side won.  The poll numbers for both the Republicans and the Democrats, for both the Congress and the president all went down.  Everybody lost.  This was not a good time politically for anybody involved.”

Republicans are also looking ahead to the 2012 elections and fully intend to hold the president accountable for the state of the domestic economy.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell was a key player in the debt limit compromise eventually approved by Congress.

“Things have actually gotten worse since the president came to office and we need to move in a different direction," said McConnell.

The next fight over government spending will come later this year when a special bipartisan congressional panel will recommend further deficit reductions, which is expected to restart the partisan battle all over again.

Democrats are already insisting that tax increases be part of that panel’s discussion, a view that Republicans say they will fiercely resist.

You May Like

Sambisa Forest Stands Between Nigeria, Victory Over Boko Haram

Military takes back nearly all towns, villages in northeast, except for massive expanse of forest that spreads thousands of square kilometers over several states More

Islamic State Recruiting Stokes Fears for Parents in Georgia

Chechens are a notable part of Islamic State's gains in Syria and Iraq, and analysts fear what might happen if those fighters return to the Caucasus More

Yarmouk Camp Becomes Distant Memory for Palestinian Diaspora

Once thriving capital of Palestinian diaspora, after siege by Syrian government forces and Islamic State group, camp becomes 'deepest circle of hell' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'i
X
Sharon Behn
April 21, 2015 9:18 PM
A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten. Sharon Behn reports on the politics of the word genocide on the 100th anniversary of the events.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video German Program Helps Migrants Overcome Traumatic Experience at Sea

Migrants fleeing poverty and violence in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia risk life and limb to reach safety in Europe. Those who have made it to European shores are traumatized by the experience. A program in Germany helps survivors overcome the trauma by giving a new perspective to their catastrophic experience. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs